Lush, green, and home to a booming tech industry, Washington State has it all. The state is also home to an intricate web of highways where drivers have ample opportunity to show their best and worst sides. Most WA drivers have experienced the feeling of getting stuck behind a pileup on I-5, the long drive from east to west, or passing an out-of-towner who can’t seem to handle their car in the rain. Washington is also the fifth worst driving state in the country, so we can really only go up from here.
In 2015, Washington had over 500 million licensed drivers on the road, and a little over 100,000 collisions. The number of drivers on the road is ever-increasing- more people move to the state every year. More drivers also mean more accidents. The III reported in 2016 that the number of car accidents in the US is rising.
So how did we identify the safest driving cities in Washington? We compiled over 25,000 data points from QuoteWizard users in Washington on speeding tickets, accidents, DUIs, and other citations in the last year. We then calculated the rate of incidents across each city. Cities with the lowest rate are ranked safest.
How does your city compare to the rest of the Evergreen State? These are the top ten safest driving cities in Washington State:
- Moses Lake
- Port Angeles
- Oak Harbor
Read on to find out what factors made these Washington's ten safest driving cities.
1. Moses Lake
Smack dab in the middle of the state and the center of two major highways, Moses Lake earns the title of the safest driving city in Washington. Even though it’s bisected by route 17 and I-90, the small-town shows that it can handle the commuter traffic with ease.
Not only does our data reflect the town’s safe driving, but the number of DUIs and traffic infractions in the area dropped from 2016 to 2017, the most recent year data is available.
2. Port Angeles
In the idyllic Olympic Peninsula, far away from the traffic qualms of the mainland, sits Port Angeles. The town may owe their impressive driving record to their secluded region – access to this area means taking a ferry or driving Highway 101. Neighboring the Hoh Rain Forest, Port Angeles gets a significant amount of rainfall. But it appears that residents handle the soaked streets well, earning the title of second-best drivers in Washington.
This victory may shock locals though, as traffic infractions jumped almost three times higher from 2016 to 2017, according to the Port Angeles Police Department.
Bothell sits on the north-eastern edge of ever-expanding Seattle. Dwarfed by its larger neighbor, this city is a quiet, laid-back community. That low-key mindset likely played a role in Bothell coming in as the third safest driving city in WA. Also, the city earns extra points for avoiding getting behind the wheel while buzzed. In 2016, the amount of DUIs fell below the average, even though traffic infractions were higher than average.
4. Oak Harbor
Head over impressive Deception Pass to Whidbey Island, and you’ll find Oak Harbor, a quaint beach city. Oak Harbor’s main attraction is miles of beachfront where locals and visitors alike spend their days exploring local art galleries and beach-combing. This serene island lifestyle attracts a lot of happy travelers, which means no traffic or angry commuters. In Oak Harbor’s 68.74 miles of streets, there are about 22 thousand residents, resulting in 74 traffic violations in 2014.
The City of Subdued Excitement certainly lives up to its nickname when it comes to driving. Bellinghamsters are fifth in the state when it comes to safe driving. Maybe that impressive driving record comes from a significant number of Bham residents owning a Subaru, or maybe because people spend more time on the trails than on the roads in this outdoor recreation haven. A 2015 collision summary by WSDOT states that Bellingham had 1,465 total collisions that year.
Yelm is located on the west side of the state, just south of Tacoma and Olympia. This small town has just under seven thousand residents. The low density of the town helped it earn the sixth spot as a top safe driving city in WA. Highway 507 and Highway 510 also intersect in the center of town, but that apparently doesn’t faze Yelm drivers. In 2015, Yelm had just 127 traffic collisions.
“We have a very pro-active police department that spends more time educating drivers than they do citing them,” said Yelm Chief of Police Todd Stancil. “Drivers are less stressed and understand that with growth comes growing pains to include additional traffic congestion. The drivers of Yelm take it all in stride.”
Bellevue began as a suburb of Seattle, but has since become a home to several Seahawks and a myriad of high-end shopping centers. Residents often use I-90 or Highway 520 to cross Lake Washington from Seattle to Bellevue. Commuting between the two cities is common practice and often results in stopped traffic during rush hour, leading to plenty of fender-benders and pileups. In 2017, there were 1,639 traffic collisions in Bellevue. That’s not surprising given the high amount of movement to and from surrounding areas. Even then, it seems that Bellevue drivers are overall pretty safe behind the wheel.
“Bellevue drivers enjoy a low at fault driving rate based on a combination of factors. The City of Bellevue has taken a robust approach of coupling education of drivers and pedestrian and combined it with proven engineering and enforcement practices,” said Maria Harnden, a Captain for the Bellevue Police Department. “This synergy results in a low rate of serious injury and fatality collisions, as well as conscientious drivers on our roadways.”
On the edge of the Washington and Oregon border, Vancouver deals with a lot of visitors passing through for a weekend of tax-free shopping. Even with a constant stream of travelers, the city avoids consistent traffic infractions. Of course, accidents do happen, especially with major roads like I-5, Highway 500, Highway 14, and I-205 intersecting in Vancouver. In 2015, the city saw 2,474 total collisions.
Maybe it’s because of the sheer density of the biggest city in WA, or maybe it’s the high number of transplants making Seattle their home, but most Seattleites are probably shocked that the city made the top ten. Seattle actually has the fourth worst traffic in the country. All things considered, the tech hub still scrapes by at number nine. There were 14,508 traffic collisions in Seattle in 2015, the most recent year data is available. The city is working to address safety on the roads with the Vision Zero program, which aims to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030.
According to Allison Schwartz, a representative for SDOT, “Using data to target where safety concerns need to be addressed, implementing bold street design, and working with a constituency open to behavior change through education contributes to Seattle being one of the fastest growing and safest cities in the United States.”
Bordering the Columbia River and Oregon State line, Longview is a major hub for trucks and commuters alike moving between the states. Even with the high volume of semi-trucks passing through, this small-town made the top ten safest driving cities in WA.
In fact, this city continues to improve on its roadways. In 2015, Longview began the Industrial and Oregon Way Intersection Project. This project aims to address the high number of crashes within the SR 432 Corridor, one of the busiest truck intersections in Washington. According to the Longview Police Department, collision rates increased from 2014 to 2015, but the number of traffic citations stayed about the same.
How Good Driving Affects Your Car Insurance Rates
Whether you live in one of the safest driving cities in Washington or your town didn’t quite make the cut, it’s important to have a good auto insurance policy. Even if you think your area is full of safe drivers, a few bad drivers can make your insurance premiums pricier. That’s because being surrounded by bad drivers makes you more likely to get into an accident.
The best way to combat steep rates is by shopping around and comparing car insurance quotes from different companies. And if you know you’re a bad driver, take a look at cheap high-risk car insurance.
How did we statistically identify Washington's safest drivers? We used 2017 incident stats with more than 25,000 data points from QuoteWizard users across the state. To quantify overall driver quality for comparison, we weighted incident counts for each city with its frequency.
The final rankings are a sum of weighted means calculated from accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs, and citations. QuoteWizard then ranked each Washington city to find the safest drivers.